Commercial clinical investigator site M&A-driven consolidation continues with the latest acquisition of VitaLink Research—financed by Great Point Partners—the pick up of Palm Beach, Florida-based Comprehensive Clinical Research. Great Point Partners released a press release on August 12 with the announcement.
Founded in 2000 in southeast Florida, Comprehensive Clinical Research (CCT) focuses on providing Phase II-IV clinical trials with a therapeutic focus in women’s health. The addition of CCT enables VitaLink Research to provide high-quality clinical research to a greater number of patients throughout the southeast.
Serving Women’s Health & More Patients in Southeast
Nick Wright, CEO of VitaLink Research, notes, “The partnership with Comprehensive Clinical Trials is a critical milestone in the company’s expansion into the growing field of women’s health.” He continued “The addition of CCT enables us to partner with the fantastic team that Dr. Ackerman has built throughout his distinguished career as a physician and Principal Investigator. Additionally, I look forward to working with Dr. Ackerman to strategically grow our women’s health clinical research capabilities in existing VitaLink Research sites to increase the number of patients who can participate in these important research studies. Dr. Ackerman’s expertise in clinical research is world renowned and he will continue to lead the CCT business.”
Pace of Consolidation May Accelerate
VitaLink Research (VLR), founded in 2004, has since become a leading dedicated clinical research business with 13 locations across the U.S. with their headquarters in Greenville, SC. VLR reports that their model is an effective method of research operations and management that consistently exceeds sponsor and FDA expectations during all quality audits while consistently ranking in the top 10% in global enrollment (TrialSite News has no way of verifying this as much of the sponsor-site metrics are proprietary). VLR reports that through the clustering of sites, they offer inter-site exchange, cross training, and standardization of operating procedures, etc. We are not sure if VLR has earned any accreditation via groups such as AAHRPP, ACRES etc.
Research Site Consolidation
Great Point Partners (GPP) was founded in 2003 and has about $1.8 of equity under management. They are just one of a handful of dedicated, focused, and driven private equity firms that understand the value of clinical research and clinical investigational sites specifically. TrialSite News discussed site consolidation carefully. For example, just a few months ago Evolution Research acquired Finger Lakes Clinical Research in a deal made possible by money from Linden Capital Partners. Also in just the past few months, Nebraska-based Meridian Clinical Research expanded its site network picking up Regional Clinical Research. That group is part of another clinical investigator network known as Platinum Research Network. Interestingly, major efforts are underway with a sophisticated group of clinical research site operators known as CenExel Clinical Research (CenExel) formed as part of a consolidation of high-end, focused research centers specializing in analgesia research, pain management and vaccine testing—recently acquired ACMR, the largest psychiatric clinical investigation site in the nation. CenExel’s consolidation and expansion centers more on highly strategic, subject matter expertise-driven accretive growth in core therapeutic areas, funded by Webster Equity Partners.
Other private equity groups are looking at the industry as there are hundreds of elite clinical investigation sites that remain independent and the total number of investigation sites in America is in the thousands. TrialSite News maintains a robust, centralized data base of clinical research sites worldwide. We have fielded calls from investors interested in identifying acquisition targets indicating the seriousness of the topic in 2019. We plan on more information on clinical investigator site consolidation as well as some upcoming planned interviews. We have previously summarized interviews with experts in the field such as David Blume of Edgemont Capital Partners, arguably one of the top bankers in this field. The rest of 2019 will likely see more acquisitions, and we suspect possible even more in 2020.